What do Dr Mark Pack and the painter Titian have in common?

Very little, you might think. After all, one’s a pioneering creative working in the pay of some of the most powerful, feared and megalomaniacal individuals of his day, and the other is a Venetian Renaissance painter.

One answer could be the one suggested by Ryan on the Lib Dem Voice internal mailing list*, that no-one knows exactly how old they are. The other and not unrelated answer is that CCHQ appears to have it in for both of them. The BBC, under the treasurable headline “Tories admit to Wiki-alteration“, report the following:

During exchanges at prime minister’s questions, the Tory leader mocked Mr Brown for talking of Titian at 90, when he said in fact he had died age 86.

Shortly afterwards a Wikipedia user registered at Tory HQ moved his birth date forward by four years.

The party admitted an “over-eager” member of staff had been responsible.

Ah, the old over-zealous researcher, one of the most useful figures in the Westminster Village. Although in this case, perhaps CCHQ were a bit quick to reach for the standard comeback, because all things being equal the zealous researcher in question is not only zealous, but stupid. Paul Waugh in the Standard, who had the story first and who initially reported it much as the Beeb does, has this intriguing twist:

A close check of the Wiki history shows that Titian was originally listed as having an age of 91 (born1485, died 1576), Then some bod from Sutton changed it at 1229pm to 88 (born 1488 died 1576) and THEN the Tory official changed it – not to Cameron’s claim of 86 – but to 82 (born 1490 died 1572). Poor old Titian lost nine years in a matter of minutes.

And Cameron lost his Slytherin House Debating Trophy 2009. So is this zealotry tempered with stupidity or sabotage? And in the interests of public information, would the bod from Sutton, if they’re reading, please stand up?

Anyway, Waugh also has the piece of information that clinches the connection between a four-hundred year old Italian and the Lib Dem Head of Innovations:

How do we know this? Well the ip address for the change – which seems to be that of CCHQ.

A quick search on iplocation shows that the above address is listed Conservative Central Office, London, UK.

And this be the selfsame IP address as wot originated the following comment on Lib Dem Voice last year:

I would hate to live in Dr Packs bitter world of bile [sic]

And that’s coming from CCHQ, mind.

*Where we pull stuff together and sort stuff out, or at least hold stuff up and jabber excitedly about it for a bit before dropping it back onto the heap. The occasional attempts of opposition bloggers to imply that LDV is some kind of superslick party mouthpiece “co-ordinated” by the above-mentioned Dr Pack cause me no end of amusement.

In a way one’s sorry it isn’t true – it would mean that things like today’s 6pm pile-up of four posts within ten minutes of each other after a three hour gap would merely be a very cunning double blind, and not, in fact, the result of a thoroughgoing and cheerfully entrenched lack of co-ordination. This is the trouble with being unique liberal snowflakes. Great as an approach to public services reform, plays merry hell with publishing schedules.


  1. I would hate to live in Dr Packs bitter world of bile

    That to me either sounds like a slightly unpleasant cheap themepark that you might be forced to go to one rainy bank holiday with your nan, or the type of warehouse shop that you would hear advertised on local radio:

    …This bank holiday weekend only at Dr Pack’s Bitter World of Bile, buy this 2 litre bottle of Pack’s Best Bile and pay nothing until 2012, that’s right, nothing until 2012…

    I don’t think I would like to liver in Dr Pack’s Bitter World of Bile, but then I have plenty of my own. However, if I suffered from Steatorrhea it might be a good place to spend a bank holiday.

  2. Didn’t Orwell write something along the lines of “he who controls the past, controls the future”? Can the Great British Public trust the Tories with the Ministry of Truth, or with any of the instruments of control which New Labour are installing?

  3. Hate to be the voice of reason, and I know that IP sniffing is one of the favourite games of the blogosphere, but why is there a connection between a CCHQ IP address and official action on behalf of theConservative Party? For instance, if I worked at, say, the BBC, and I wrote this comment using a computer on their network during my break, would that imply that it was official policy of the BBC to stick up for the Tories online?

    That seems to be the implication you’re making.

  4. Oh, Stuart, lighten up! I’m sure right-wingers, with their famed senses of humour of which they are so proud, will see the funny side of the whole thing. Obviously it was some insignificant little twerp – who on earth in any serious position would think it worth altering Wikipedia? That surely goes without saying. Insofar as I was making any serious point whatsoever – and I really, really wasn’t – it was probably, “Careful, CCHQ, which twerps you employ or we’ll judge you by their results”.

    ๐Ÿ˜€ Andrew, as soon as I had stopped laughing at your comment I found myself mentally designing marketing literature for Dr Pack’s Bitter World of Bile. Should we have an LDV competition for the best design?

  5. I was thinking of an advert along the lines of “Dr Packโ€™s Bitter World of Bile – Guaranteed free of CCHQ staffers”

  6. Iโ€™m sure right-wingers, with their famed senses of humour of which they are so proud, will see the funny side of the whole thing.

    Personally, I’m disappointed. Not because of the whole altering wikipedia thing – that is quite funny and good initiative that man – but what kind of prize idiot does that without using an anonymous proxy server?

    Honestly, what do they teach them at these schools?

    Probably haven’t even heard of icitek

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